I wrote this story sometime between 2001-2002. I think I’ve grown considerably as a writer as this period I was more into ‘weird’ than actual horror. I tried to keep my corrections to grammar, I didn’t want to smooth out all the bumps. But please, enjoy.
“Meow,” came the call from the basement. Martin shifted even farther away as if he were about to hop on the kitchen sink.
“You keep your cat locked in the basement?” Gloria asked, looking concerned.
“I don’t have a cat,” he replied, eyes shifting between Gloria and the basement.
“Then shouldn’t you call Animal Control to remove it?” she asked, approaching the door. “The poor thing could get hurt down there.”
“I hope it dies down there,” he said, nodding. “That ain’t no cat.”
Gloria made a face of mild disgust.
“Of course that was a cat. We both heard it.”
“Lady, those things can sound however they feel like sounding, but that doesn’t make them cute and furry.”
“Things,” Gloria said, tapping her clipboard with a pen. “You have more than one of them down there?”
“Sometimes. But they’re all over the place. That’s why I keep all the doors locked.”
Gloria noticed then the doorknobs with locks on them—the basement and laundry room doors.
“I sleep down here in the kitchen,” Martin said. “Only place where it’s safe. Only place where they don’t hide.”
Gloria adjusted her glasses on her nose as she looked at him. He had a week’s worth of beard and his hair was uncombed. His clothes looked they hadn’t been changed in a week and he had a grimy look about him, accompanied by a smell that was unpleasant even at this distance. The wild look in his eyes suggested a hint of danger.
Gloria suddenly felt like she wasn’t wearing enough clothes.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” he asked. “You wanna get me now too, don’t you? They always start off harmless, but that’s how I got this.” He raised his arm and rolled up his unbuttoned sleeve, revealing twin scars running from just above his elbow to just below his wrist.
“Martin, you should go to a hospital,” Gloria said. “That could be infected.”
“Well of course you want me to go outside, but that’s not happening.” Martin folded his arms, the sleeve sliding halfway back. “I’m fine right in here.”
“But what about your family, your friends, your job?”
“Dead, gone and don’t need one. I’ve noticed the film on the windows. It turns everything outside a slight shade of pink,” he said conspiratorially. “You probably have it around the thresholds too and as soon as I step out the door—wham!” he clapped his hands together, loudly. “You get me.”
“Martin, I’m just a social worker,” Gloria said. “I’m not part of some conspiracy to ‘get you’.”
“Of course you are,” he said, matter-of-factly. “But you go and tell your people or whatever you are that I’m not going down without a fight. I’ve killed one of them before,” he said, blankly staring at the basement door, “so I know you’re not ghosts. And I’ll keep on killing you ’til you leave me alone.”
“Martin, you’ve been killing these… cats?” Gloria said, becoming frightened. He had turned his back and was staring out the window when she quietly unlocked the basement door.
“I told you,” he calmly said. “I don’t have any cats.”
Just then, the animal began howling horribly as if in pain and Gloria threw the door open.
“What are you doing?” he shouted when he turned and saw the door open. “Close that door!”
Gloria looked down the dark stairwell and saw a pair of yellow glowing eyes. As if waiting to be seen, they immediately began racing up the stairs and she was thrown aside as Martin slammed the door shut and locked it.
“Did it get past you?” he asked, deep premature lines creasing his face.
“I didn’t see anything,” Gloria said, panting, wondering what it was she actually did see.
“The really bad ones come from downstairs. I think you let it out,” Martin said, resting his forehead on his forearm and his forearm on the door.
He inhaled sharply as suddenly the fabric of his shirt split open at the left side of his lower back as if the material had spontaneously torn. The outer wall by the kitchen window bulged grotesquely like it was stretching rubber instead of drywall. A deep bellowing sound like the groan of the cat boomed all around them as the bulge crept up the wall.
“They’ve never been in that wall before,” Martin said, dumbfounded. They had both centered in the room—Gloria retreated from the wall and Martin walking toward it.
The groan slowly lowered in pitch as the bulge crawled to a stop. They stared at it in silence for seconds and yelped in unison when a hot breeze batted them aside and a two pronged slash tore huge chunks of drywall out of the wall.
Gloria felt the floor shift under her feet and turned to see Martin on the island with a black steel rod longer than he was gripped in his hands. She wanted to get on the island too, but the look on his face made her question which was more dangerous—the thing or him.
His eyes were everywhere, but focused nowhere. She looked down for where it might be and saw several oblong holes about the length and width of the tip of the pole in his hands.
He leapt from the island when he saw the floor bulge a few feet away from the refrigerator, his feet planted firmly on either side of it, and began to stab away at the floor. There was a high-pitched scream and a dark green-gray fluid shot up from the floor like he had struck oil in his kitchen. It jetted twice strongly, and as the swelling subsided, the fluid began puddling out of the floor.
“Now do you believe me?” Martin said and noticing himself, began stripping the fluid soaked shirt from his body. He wiped his face with the clean side and began spitting as if to get a nasty taste from his mouth. “Tell me that was in my head.”
“No,” Gloria began, weakly. She cleared her throat. “No, that was real.”
Martin turned and examined her with his eyes. She found herself pulling at the bottom of her skirt and looking for an extra button on her jacket under his gaze. Instead of removing the gunk from his face, he had only smeared it and made himself look even more crazy.
“Martin, you need to leave this place,” she said nervously. “I can take you—”
“No!” he screamed at her. “I’m not going anywhere with you. Where’d you get your degree from?”
“What?” Gloria asked, baffled by the sudden change in direction. “Martin, I hardly think my schooling has anything to do with this.”
“Where?” he shouted.
“NYU!” she shouted back.
“That’s right,” he said calmly. “It would be a place I heard of before. Just like the cat. I used to have a cat when I was little.”
“All stuff from my memory,” he interrupted, looking tired. “Just like you.”
“What?” Gloria said again.
“Everything about you is all from things I know. That’s how you things operate. Young, attractive, disarming. You got into my head first.” He stepped toward her with the threatening look returning to his eyes, alternately gripping the pole with his hands.
“But there’s one thing you haven’t gotten.”
Gloria continued backing up until she was almost in the next room. “What’s that?” she asked, trying to stall him.
He rounded the island and reached into the sink, letting the pole drop to the floor. He picked up something, turned back to her and tossed the object he was holding to her.
“Tell me what that is.”
“It’s a…” she began. Gloria stared at it, dumbly, knowing it was something she should know. It had a familiar feel to her hand and the handle felt right as she slipped her fingers through it, but she just couldn’t place it, couldn’t fit her mind around it.
“I-I don’t kn-know,” she stammered, looking up at Martin, confused.
“It’s a cup.”
Gloria felt as though her insides had deflated. She slumped over and hung her head. Martin rested his butt against the island with his arms folded, watching her intently.
“But I’m human,” she cried.
“No. You’re not. You’re one of them.”
Gloria felt like she should be feeling sad or angry, but she felt nothing. A hollowness inside began to take over, filling everything, including her thoughts. She felt the change and knew outwardly she appeared the same.
”I’m human,” she said with a shaky voice totally disconnected from anything inside her. A thought said ‘cry’ and tears began to flow in a steady stream first from one eye, then the other. “I was just confused. I mean, look at what just happened.”
“If you’re human, how did you get in here? I never let you in.”
“There door was unlocked!” she exclaimed in what was a convincing imitation of rage. “You said it yourself, you don’t go outside—how often do you check your door?”
Martin’s face betrayed his sudden uncertainty. His stood up and uncrossed his arms, confused. He seemed to consider the possibility and then he began to walk over to her.
She took a small step back to give him the impression she was still afraid. He gingerly laid his arms across her back and she put hers around him in turn. Sounds issued from her mouth that were a perfect mimic of a racking sob. Something triggered the muscles in her back and she began shaking.
“There-there,” he said, sounding unsure of his words. “It’s okay now.”
Her arms clamped down around his rib cage then. He grunted painfully, uselessly attempting to push her away. Her shaking muscles stilled and she effortlessly lifted him from the floor and her feet began walking, then running toward the patio door next to the kitchen. She stopped running, sliding several inches across the floor, and swung her arms open wide, sending Martin flying through the door. His face never lost the look of confusion as he crashed through the glass.
Instantly, his body began to smoke, enveloped in the pink translucent skin, swathed about the house. It constricted around him and quickly filled his mouth as he opened it to scream.
Gloria stood at the open doorway, smiling, though it looked misplaced on her face as he was devoured in seconds.
She decided to take the back door to avoid being seen. Stepping through, Gloria looked over at the neighboring house. The house on the other side was already a decayed husk, but this one was still untouched. She heard the others, already burrowing underground next door and took her time. How long would she have to wait this time?
Months? Days? Hours? She continued smiling, thinking of the satisfaction she should have felt. They were getting faster at it.
Next is an excerpt of the upcoming Axe to the Face, by Jay Rauld. Hope you enjoy!
Karen ran. He was close, she could hear his footsteps behind her. She’d run track in high school and at only twenty-two years old that felt like a long time ago.
“I see you!” he shouted from behind. Karen didn’t know how he’d found her, she had been so careful since the police had warned her away from Reuben. He had seemed like such a nice guy. She focused ahead, pumping her legs as hard as she could.
This was ridiculous; in this day and age people didn’t get hunted down like animals. Karen wanted to scream, but couldn’t afford to waste the air. She had a stitch in her side and already she could feel herself slowing. But in the meantime that psychopath was somewhere close behind.
Karen wished she had never met Reuben. All these troubles had started the day he had come into her shop. He’d had such a lost puppy dog look that she couldn’t help herself when she had come over to help him. And he was just so big and strong-looking, just the way she liked her men. Karen was a size queen and she just knew by the look of his rough hands and the thickness of his wrists that he had just what she needed.
But trouble started for her soon after she’d gone on a date with Reuben. She started getting weird phone calls and notes left on her door. And twice this weirdo detective had come to her house, asking about Reuben—when she’d seen him last, if she was going to see him again—weird questions like that.
Karen had been a fool. She had seen the news and knew what Reuben had been accused of. But her mother had always said she was hard-headed when she wanted something. She was always the one who investigated and researched until she’d put together a rock-solid argument that was near impossible for her parents to cut through. Karen had read the exposé detailing the experimental treatment he’d been subjected to. There had been rigorous testing and retesting and at the end of it they had pronounced him as cured. He was supposed to have been a new man.
Obviously, Karen had made a miscalculation somewhere.
She didn’t want to risk stopping inside some store, this psycho seemed the type to come in and kill everyone inside just to get to her. The only place she could see herself stopping was if she could have gotten to a police station. She hadn’t been on this side of town in some years, but thought she remembered one about four blocks away. Karen didn’t think she would last that long, but she had to try.
Karen ran through a gas station lot, rounding the building and finding herself in a small alley. Alarms rang in her head. This was the absolute last place she wanted to be, but she couldn’t turn around. That would mean potentially heading back in his direction. Just around the corner and she would be out and back on the street. Karen pushed herself, her pulse beating in her skull.
She was rounding the corner when something slammed upside her head and she was suddenly looking at the night sky. She had the vague sensation of someone standing over her, peering down. She tried to move her head but was too dazed to move.
“Keep still,” a woman said. “You probably have a concussion. Try not to go to sleep.” Karen didn’t know how long she lay there, but at some point the woman began stroking her hair. The woman was being so gentle. Karen began to wonder why she wasn’t going to get help. But then he came.
He was out of breath, panting terribly when he said, “Thanks for the assist, baby doll. That one must be some sort of track star somethin’.” The man dry-heaved a few times.
Karen felt the woman stand, her vision coming somewhat back into focus. She saw the two of them embrace and realized she’d been caught.
“So what are you going to do?” the woman asked.
“I’m gon’ make ‘im suffer.”
“Like he did to her?”
“You know it. When I’m done with him he’s gon’ hurt worse than anything he did to them girls.”
“Like he did to my sister.”
“Just like he did to yo sister.”
“Thank you, baby.”
“Anythang fo you, baby doll.”
Karen never lost consciousness as she lay there in the alley. It didn’t take him long, but the pain went on forever. By the time he got up and made off to leave, the only thing she could do was scream.
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